Link between gum health and arthritis

January 2, 2011 7:28:12 AM PST
Jan Sidley sees a gum specialist regularly to keep her gum disease under control and in the process he may have eased her arthritis symptoms.

"When I stop and think about it, over the last probably 10 years, I really have not had pain," Jan Sidley told Action News.

That is possible, according to researchers at Case Western Reserve University. They recruited patients with both diseases.

"We looked at their mouth, and the patients who had inflammation of the gum and periodontal disease, and we treated this condition," says Dr. Nabil Bissada.

As the dentists cleared the gum infections, the arthritis joint pain and swelling improved.

Past research has already linked gum disease to serious ailments, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

"The common dominating factor in all of them is the, what we call, systemic inflammation," Bissada said.

Dr. Bissada says toxins from a gum infection can travel through the blood and make an inflammatory disease like arthritis worse.